Rize, an agritech startup formed through a joint venture between Temasek, Wavemaker Impact, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, GenZero to decarbonize rice cultivation in Asia, has announced the closing of its $14 million Series A funding round.

Rize said in a statement on Thursday that the funding round is co-led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, GenZero, Temasek and Wavemaker Impact.

It said the investment will enhance Rize’s technology stack including its measuring, reporting, and verification (MRV) technology and support further expansion into Indonesia, Vietnam, and across South and Southeast Asia.

In addition to technology stack development, the funds will enable Rize to expand its operations deeper into Indonesia and Vietnam and help strengthen its team of agronomists to over 100 by the end of 2024, potentially reaching over 20,000 farmers.

Rize also has plans to expand into other rice producing South and Southeast Asian countries in 2025.

This coming season, the firm aims to improve over 7,000 hectares of rice farming, demonstrating a practical path to environmental sustainability and economic improvement.

These initiatives are projected to not only lower emissions by 50 percent and reduce water usage by 20 percent but also increase farmer incomes by up to 30 percent, making sustainable rice farming a viable and attractive option.

“We are confronted with the challenges of addressing the high levels of methane emissions and the water-intensive practices prevalent in rice farming, which accounts for 10 percent of global methane emissions, a figure that is set to rise if unchecked,” said Dhruv Sawhney, Chief Executive Officer of Rize.

According to him, another hurdle is the lack of precise data, particularly among the numerous smallholder farms across South and Southeast Asia, as well as the increasingly high cost of farming due to increased input prices and a changing climate.

“Our technology stack seeks to tackle these challenges. By doing so, we are not just aiming to cut down 100 million tonnes of carbon emissions, we are also enhancing the economic stability of farmers, ensuring that improved farmer livelihoods and reduced emissions go hand-in-hand,” he added.

He also noted the firm’s platform, and the data it captures, is pivotal in modernizing rice farming, leveraging technology to sustainably enhance yield and efficiency.

“Given that producing a single bowl of rice requires over 200 litres of fresh water, and considering that the entire rice industry accounts for more than a third of the world’s irrigation water, the urgency to adopt sustainable methods is clear,” he added.

Rize is building a platform to identify and implement the most effective strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in rice cultivation, and the right economic incentives across the value chain to drive the adoption of sustainable cultivation techniques.

Its initial target markets are Indonesia and Vietnam, to be followed by a third country early next year with plans to expand more broadly within the region.

The firm’s technology stack captures vital agricultural data essential for implementing sustainable farming practices, making rice farmers more climate resilient, increasing their crop yields, lowering costs, and facilitating efficient access to finance.

This step advances its goal to eliminate 100 metric tonnes of carbon emissions whilst significantly improving farmer livelihoods.

“As global rice demand is projected to double by 2050, mitigating the environmental impact of rice cultivation is essential in the fight against climate change,

“Rize’s data-driven technology and expert team of agronomists are a powerful combination for tackling this challenge and scaling viable sustainable rice farming across Asia and globally,” said Carmichael Roberts, Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Marie Cheong, Founding Partner, Wavemaker Impact, also said the outcomes that Rize achieved in the last 18 months is testament to the robustness of its collective value proposition and business model.

“With this round of capital injection, we have every confidence in Dhruv and team to scale the adoption of sustainable farming techniques across the region, scaling the impact of decarbonization and livelihood improvement of smallholder farms,” she added.

Singapore-based agritech firm DayaTani secures $2.3M seed round financing